Sunday, July 15, 2012

Inner Strength trumps Outer Judgment

Photo: Mauricio Alejo

Putting my thoughts out there via this blog can sometimes feel a little daunting. It makes them real, out on an open platter for criticism or judgment. And I blush when I think about coworkers or boyfriends reading these very words.

Of course I want to put my best face forward.

Of course I want to be accepted by the people I care about.

Humans are taught social norms and expected behaviors; we often put on masks to showcase our ideal selves.

But you know what?

When it comes down to it, I don't really care. I won't let fear stop me from believing what I believe or saying what I think should be said.

Out of 7 billion people, there has got to be at least one person who feels the same way I do. And I find strength thinking about the shared human experience. The shared struggles, as well as the shared joys. When you think about all the humans deceased, living, and yet to be born... it makes my personal moments of insecurity seem like an insignificant tear drop in a vast sea.

Really, now who doesn't have complex issues to deal with? Who doesn't face pressure, expectations, unmet desires, or bumps along the road?

I ask you, reader, how do you live a life full of hope and joy, versus collapsing under the weight of so many expectations? For me, I think if I can accept my own flaws, then I can accept the flaws of others. If I can accept others, then I can accept the situations around us. If I can accept uncertainty, then I can focus on finding stable ground. I can allocate my energy toward being healthy, thinking clearly, and learning from the situation.

This is how I try to ground myself when I find myself being an emotional nutcase...when I start doubting myself or who I am:

  • I write. Writing is what sets my heart on fire. It's how I express my thoughts and is my emotional release. What are your life passions? Is it math or painting or soccer or playing the guitar? Whatever allows you to relax into your own skin is always worth doing again and again. How else will you feel connected to your most passionate desires?
  • I reminisce. I do this best by remembering myself as a child. I distinctly remember the 12 year old me--a hyper, free-spirited bookworm in a sunflower dress. When classmates teased me for being nerdy, my parents told me, “Bianca, one day you won't even remember their names.” By golly, mom and dad were right. I can wear that sunflower dress in a bigger size now.
  • I affirm. That means shower myself with the encouragement I need. I have to believe in myself first, because if I don't... then who will? "You can do it, Bianca!"
  • I remind. It might sound cheesy, but I wrote down my personal mission statement. I re-read it whenever I need to remember my life's purpose.
  • I repeat "what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger." It's a popular adage for good reason.

Emotional strength is a muscle.

We have to nurture resilience so in tumultuous times, when probed and prodded by difficult challenges, we have a strong foundation.

Challenges test us and ask, "Who are you?"

Find strength in the answer.

Our future selves will be very proud for spitting back the answer with tenacity and purpose.